Rocket was an extremely popular ingredient in the Middle Ages, but from about the eighteenth century, its use was restricted to the Mediterranean region... until the great herb revival that started roughly 10 years ago.
These days, the warm flavour – it is described as peppery, nutty and spicy – is in demand everywhere, particularly because it lends an interesting undertone to ordinary salad leaves.
Rocket also tastes good when served with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Parmesan shavings. For a flavour explosion, try this 5-minute rocket pesto recipe. Or, to tone it down a bit, steam the leaves and serve it in the same way as spinach.
• Rocket prefers full sun or semi-shade and well-drained soil. Turn the soil over, work in compost, rake it even and water thoroughly the day before you sow. Sow the seeds 1-1,5cm deep in rows that are 30cm apart.
• Rocket must receive sufficient water, preferably at the end of the day, otherwise it will go to seed too quickly. The soil should always be slightly moist.
• When the rocket has reached a height of about 15cm (after approximately a month), thin it out and use the extra plants as baby salad leaves.
• The frequency with which you nip out the flower and seed buds will determine the duration of your rocket harvest.
• Only harvest the young leaves when you need them – pick only a few from each plant and remember that the older the leaves are, the stronger their flavour will be.